Ceramide, a navel sphingomyelin-derived second messenger mediates cellular signals of cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). In the present study, we hypothesized that the endothelium contributes to ceramide-induced vasodilation. We report that relaxation to ceramide in endothelium-intact rat thoracic aortic rings is greater than in endothelium-denuded or endothelial nitric oxide synthase (endothelial NO synthase)-inactivated rings. We conclude that the endothelium contributes to ceramide-induced relaxation possibly through an interaction between sphingomyelin hydrolysis and endothelial NO synthase within caveolae.
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